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London Forum Updates

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Brandon Lewis' responses to MPs' questions and Housing Bill


Posted on: 6 February 2016 at 13:20:08
London Forum's members may find useful the answers below given by the Minister for discussion with their local MP.
As explained in previous briefings sent to its members, London Forum is concerned that the Housing and Planning Bill would result in enforced sale of social homes to subsidise the purchase of new homes and of Housing Association ones, the delivery of 'Starter Homes' for sale on brownfield sites that are to be called "affordable" even though they will be at a price few people under 40 (to whom they must be sold) could afford, the option for developers to have their planning application assessed by a third party instead of by the local authority and the introduction of 'Permission in Principle' as here 
 
Peter Eversden
 
Brandon Lewis' responses to MPs' questions on:-
Ensuring landlords carry out reasonable repairs here.
    and the same for Housing Associations here.
Buy-to-let longer tenancies here.
Housing Association Right to Buy compensation here.
Exemptions (WCC) for short term use of London accommodation here.
Older people's housing here.
Plans for home ownership here.


Rail passenger services in London and the South East


Posted on: 24 January 2016 at 12:46:48
The Department of Transport and Transport for London have published a consultation paper on this subject.  See also the tweets on this subject at the right of this page to see comments and a report by Centre For London which is available in full here.
The DfT, Mayor of London and TfL are interested to hear views on the ideas set out in the prospectus – in particular the six questions in various parts of it. To seek further information or provide feedback, including response to the questions, contact should be made by 18 March 2016 at railprospectus@tfl.gov.uk


Some Green Belt must be built upon - Adam Smith Inst.


Posted on: 9 January 2016 at 12:06:41
London will turn into a “Dubai on Thames” dominated by skyscrapers for the wealthy unless restrictions on building homes on the Green Belt are lifted, the author of a report has claimed.
Tom Papworth, of free-market think tank the Adam Smith Institute, said the “unsustainable” policy of protecting Green Belt land from almost any development would lead to further high-rise blocks having to be built in the capital, and house prices continuing to soar.  The Institute has updated its earlier report.
Currently, more than 260 towers of over 20 storeys are being built or planned in London, with most providing flats for professionals and investors.
Mr Papworth said there were only enough brownfield sites left in the South-East for about a third of the estimated 1.8 million homes needed for the region by 2030 — and some open green space will have to be sacrificed.
The report was publicised by an Evening Stndard article here.
It follows other reports with similar recommendations, such as the one by Andrew Lainton here and by the Planning Officers Society here. Several organisations which have examined this matter have said that 4% of the Green Belt around London could yield a quarter of a million homes which would be on transport corridors and close to main line stations but only if there is spare transport capacity and infrastructure can be delivered.


New Year's Honours 2016


Posted on: 31 December 2015 at 12:21:46
London Forum of Amenity and Civic Societies is pleased to announce that its chairman, Peter Eversden, has been awarded an MBE in the honours list for services to community engagement in planning for London.
Peter says he is delighted to receive the recognition for his volunteering work over the past 35 years in the civic movement but considers the award is for the achievements of London Forum’s team and of its 150 community groups and individual members across London.
Peter is also chairman of the Bedford Park Society, a past trustee of the William Hogarth Trust and a member of the Mayor’s Outer London Commission since 2009. He joined London Forum as a trustee in 1996 and became its chairman in 2001. Peter has been involved in the development of the London Plan since the GLA was created and the London Forum’s 25th anniversary in 2013 was hosted for all its members by Boris Johnson at City Hall in appreciation of the work done by community volunteers.
The London Forum is a charity established in 1988 by the Civic Trust to network, support, inform and represent its members across the capital, to help communities to build civic engagement and involvement with their Council in planning, sustainable development, service provision and theimprovement of localities.
Derek Chandler, secretary@londonforum.org.uk


Lords Economic Affairs Committee investigates housing


Posted on: 20 December 2015 at 21:52:57
The Economic Affairs Commitee of the House of Lords has commenced an inquiry into the housing market.  London Forum has given evidence to the members based on our comments on the Housing and Planning Bill which have been reported in updates below.  We have drawn attention also to the Local Government Association's concerns about the way that Bill would make it impossible to provide low cost homes to rent.
The committee has interviewed Toby Lloyd, Head of Policy, Shelter and Betsy Dillner, Director, Generation Rent and Duncan Stott, Director, PricedOut.   An interesting transcript is here.


Local Govt Assoc objects to Housing Assoc Right to Buy


Posted on: 20 December 2015 at 10:02:35
The Local Government Association (LGA) has raised concerns that Councils would face a £6bn shortfall in funding if they are forced to sell social housing to compensate Housing Associations (HAs) for selling their homes at a discount under the Government's proposed HA Right to Buy scheme. Their evidence and recommendations are here.
The LGA has reported on the progress of the proposals in the Housing and Planning Bill through its stages in Parliament and submitted amendments.


Tall Buildings advice published by Historic England


Posted on: 14 December 2015 at 00:07:21
Historic England's Tall Buildings Advice Note updates previous guidance by English Heritage and CABE, produced in 2007. It seeks to guide people involved in planning for and designing tall buildings so that they may be delivered in a sustainable and successful way through the development plan and development management process. The advice is for all relevant developers, designers, local authorities and other interested parties.
It suggests the use of tall buildings policies in Local Plans to identify areas appropriate for tall buildings in advance of specific proposals and to establish clear expressions of spatial scale and design quality requirements for new tall buildings. The guidance proposes the use of urban design analysis with modelling of the potential impact of buildings of various heights and forms on their surroundings. It states that tall buildings should enhance the overall townscape.
London Forum will be seeking such policies in the Replacement London Plan.


Transport Affordability in London


Posted on: 9 December 2015 at 18:27:08
A report 'Living on the Edge' commissioned by London Councils, London TravelWatch and Trust for London has found that London's low paid workers living in outer London are being disproportionately affected by the rising cost of transport. 
Cllr Julian Bell, Chair of London Councils' Transport and Environment Committee said: "On average, Londoners spend around seven per cent of their monthly earnings on travel to work - but low earners are spending almost ten per cent. Combined with housing and living costs the odds are increasingly stacked against people on lower incomes."


Developers slammed about Bishopsgate viability claims


Posted on: 9 December 2015 at 10:44:02
Building Design has publicised in an article which you can read here details of an investigation by BNP Paribas into the viability assessment for the development of the Bishopsgate Good Yard.
It revealed that the developer could have provided three times as much affordable housing than it claimed.
This is a very serious matter and could affect affordable housing delivery in many major developments. A report was published by the Guardian on a similar situation in Elephant and Castle. Viability is a matter that community and civic groups need to watch carefully in borough decision making and to seek independent appraisals of viability claims when the local authority is prepared to fund them.
The two boroughs involved had other objections also which the article summarises, including harm to the setting of the Tower of London World Heritage Site.
The application has been called in by the Mayor for his determination and it will be interesting to see what the GLA does about the design of the scheme and its contribution of affordable housing.
Members who attended the 15th September London Forum open meeting on viability will recall the excellent presentations given on assessing viability by Sacha Winfield-Ferreira of BNP Paribas and by John Wacher of LB Islington (click on the names to see the slides).
John demonstrated what can be achieved in his borough where resources and skills have been developed for viability negotiations. That is needed in all local authorities and there is a guide to help the process.
BNP Paribas staff are carrying out a lot of work on this and related subjects. Examples are a viability study of Community Infrastructure Levy and Local Plan Policies for LB Hounslow and viability training for LB Lambeth staff.


Heritage Counts surveys London's historic environment


Posted on: 8 December 2015 at 22:54:18
Heritage Counts 2015 is the fourteenth annual survey of the state of the capital's historic environment and is published by Historic England.
Heritage Counts - London 2015 
As in previous years, Heritage Counts provides a summary of historic environment indicators including an analysis of staffing levels, heritage at risk, planning applications and visitor, education and volunteering figures.
See the details of Local Authority Profiles and a set of Indicators.

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